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Morning Report: TJ Dillashaw says he’s willing to change divisions if ‘powder puff champion’ Dominick Cruz keeps avoiding him

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T.J. Dillashaw (EL, MMA F) Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

These days everybody in the UFC has to have a backup plan, and former bantamweight champion T.J. Dilllashaw is no different.

Dillashaw has been making headlines recently for his outspoken opposition to the lowering standards of the UFC with regards to title fights. Specifically, Dillashaw got his dander up when the UFC passed him over for a title shot in favor of the lower-ranked Cody Garbrandt. Instead, he accepted a fight with second-ranked John Lineker on the same card as the Dominick Cruz-Garbrandt title fight.

By all accounts this looks like a clear-cut No. 1 contender’s bout, but Dillashaw is unconvinced. Speaking at the UFC 207 media day yesterday, Dillashaw explained why he thinks Cruz is refusing to fight him and why a win on Friday doesn’t guarantee him a title shot.

“I think he’s gonna try to avoid me as long as possible. He wants to retire before fighting me again. He knows I won that fight. He doesn’t want to build that fight up. He ignores everything. I tried betting him $100,000 on this fight. I tried doing whatever I possibly could to get this fight and he’s just ignoring it so there’s no talk about it.

“The only way these title fights and these big fights happen is if you guys and the fans talk about it. All the UFC cares about is selling tickets and if he doesn’t bring up my name it’s easy for him not to fight me. It’s easy for him to ignore the fact that he’s admitting to me after the fight when the bell rings, ‘Congratulations, you won that fight’ but then the announcement happens and he’s best in the world, he’s pound-for-pound king.”

Dillashaw lost the bantamweight title in a contentious split decision to Cruz back in January. After the fight, Dillashaw quickly began lobbying for an immediate rematch, but was passed over in favor of a rubber match with his former mentor and Cruz rival, Urijah Faber. Instead, Dillashaw took a fight against third-ranked contender Raphael Assunscao which he won by unanimous decision. Afterwards, Dillashaw began his campaign anew, this time even attempting to bet a goodly sum of his own money to coerce Cruz into fighting him. The attempt failed and Garbrandt got the title shot, a source of much frustration for Dillashaw, because he believes it’s evidence of Cruz being a weak champion and a degradation of the meritocracy of the sport.

“I don’t know if it’s the UFC trying to promote Dominick Cruz to keep him on top so he can have a nice, comfy desk job after this is all done and said and have a good name for it or if it’s just because Cody’s very colorful and willing to say stupid s**t and talk crap. He’ll make himself look like a fool to get what he wants...

“You saw the build up. After Cody beat No. 11, they’re going back and forth from Cody and Cruz up in the booth. This thing was completely built. It was built from the beginning. I do think [Cruz] is hand selecting and choosing what fights he wants. I think he’s being a powder puff champion.”

“Powder puff champion” or not, Dillashaw is still somewhat at the mercy of Cruz so long as he holds the belt. Absent the type of fan groundswell that got behind Stephen Thompson or Dan Henderson, Dillashaw doesn’t have much recourse to force the UFC’s hand. Moreover, he’s unwilling to sit out for an extended period of time like Tyron Woodley did and Demain Maia plans to do which is why he accepted this upcoming fight with Lineker.

“I don’t make enough money to wait [for a title shot]. I can’t sit on the shelf and just wait. I’ve got too big of goals in life so I’m gonna continue to fight, I’m not gonna sit around and wait. I said after my last fight I was gonna take no fight other than a title fight but look, I’m taking the No. 2 guy again.”

But if he gets past Lineker on Friday, and the UFC and Cruz are still unwilling to give him the title shot he feels he deserves, Dillashaw says he’s willing to take whatever other options are available to him, including changing weight classes.

“I’m not gonna wait around forever to get a belt back... If I’m gonna continue to get overlooked, if Cruz is gonna continue to pick guys in the top 10 instead of the top 5 I might have to go [to another division]. The goal is to have a belt around my waist.”

According to the UFC Embedded series, Dillashaw is already on weight for his fight Friday so maybe that means we’ll see him face Demetrious Johnson for the flyweight belt next year.

Dillashaw fights John Lineker at UFC 207 on Friday in Las Vegas, Nev.


MUST-READ STORIES

It’s all over. Mike Goldberg is leaving the UFC after UFC 207.

The nerve. Dana White says Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson won’t happen because Ferguson wants equal pay to Nurmagomedov.

Boycott. Dana White explains Ronda Rousey’s media blackout ahead of UFC 207.

Turn down for what. Dana White says Fabricio Werdum turned down multiple fights by asking for more money.

20 pounds. Johny Hendricks challenged the MMA media to a weight cutting contest.


MEDIA STEW

Embedded 3: Guess Dana couldn’t get any more out of Rousey.

Dom having fun with Bisping.

Dom is in Cody’s head. Wish he was less, “get control of your woman” about it though.

Kinda feels like she totally cares about a lot of those things.

Look, PBP is hard and you do something for 20 years, you’re bound to have a few gaffs. But still, here’s some of Goldie flubbing.

Miesha on Undisputed.

Tech analysis.

Dana trying to convince Luke that Nate is bigger than him.


LISTEN UP

Press Row.

Heavy Hands.

MMA Mad.


TWEETS

Cain’s statement.

To all of my fans, family and friends, As you can imagine the last few days have been very challenging. However,...

Posted by Cain Velasquez on Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Replacing Goldberg with Rome instead of Anik would be the most UFC thing ever.

Good for her.

Mike Perry calls out Albert Tumenov.

Yup.

Has to be closer than the trash talk battles at least.

Everyone should fight in Rizin.

Dana having to break it to Max that they’re trying to book Aldo-Khabib now.

Don’t worry, Dana said they wouldn’t so it’s definitely happening.

Sage doesn’t skip leg day.

Cyborg’s about to make Rizin even more awesome.

A message from Ronda.

A message from @RondaRousey

A video posted by Dana White (@danawhite) on

Werdum on the Dana situation.

Tito actually getting a win here? Never saw that coming.

When a joke went to far! Former @UFC champ? @sonnench a wanna be that never was! #Bellator170

A photo posted by titoortiz1999 (@titoortiz1999) on

Apparently Todd Duffee will be back.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Derek Campos (17-6) vs. Derek Anderson (14-2, 1 NC); Bellator 170, January 21.

Rebecca Ruth (6-2) vs. Colleen Schneider (10-7); Bellator 170, January 21.

Phillipe Nover (11-7-1) vs. Rick Glenn (18-4-1); UFC 208, February 11.

Lando Vannata (9-1) vs. David Teymur (5-1); UFC 209, March 4.


TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

2007: Georges St-Pierre became the interim UFC welterweight champion by submitting Matt Hughes with an armbar in their rubber match at UFC 79. This event also featured the long-awaited fight between Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva. Liddell won by unanimous decision.

2012: Cain Velasquez became the UFC heavyweight champion for the second time when he avenged his loss to Junior dos Santos, pummeling him en route to a unanimous decision victory at UFC 155.

2015: The beautiful gem that is Rizin FF was birthed upon this world with the debut of their first event, Rizin World Grand Prix 2015: Part 1. The event featured Shinya Aoki beating up Kazushi Sakuraba for no discernible reason. It was Sakuraba’s first fight in four years and possibly (hopefully) his last.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Hope y’all enjoyed the Rizin card. Until tomorrow.


If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting because we post dope things and you should enjoy them.